Champion trainer Darren Weir facing four-year ban for possessing ?jiggers?
Australia’s champion trainer Darren Weir is facing a four-year suspension from the sport for possessing illegal electric devices, known as jiggers, after they were found on his property during a raid by stewards and police.
The Melbourne Cup-winning trainer, who has 614 named horses in his care and has won multiple Group 1 prizes in his illustrious career, spent 11 hours at a preliminary hearing conducted by Racing Victoria stewards on Monday.
Racing Victoria said in a statement after the conclusion of the hearing in the early of hours of the morning in Australia that the 48-year-old trainer would not contest the three charges against him when he faces the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RAD), where stewards will seek a four-year disqualification.
A 'jigger' is the local name for an electronic device, usually used with a whip, and is designed to deliver an electronic shock to a horse in a bid to produce a better performance on the track. An unregistered firearm and cocaine were also reportedly found at the properties.
Weir was joined at the hearing by licensed trainer Jarrod McLean, who was also arrested on Wednesday along with stable hand Tyson Kermond. Racing Victoria has said McLean will contest a charge of possessing a similar device and can continue to train until his hearing.
Kermond was charged with failing to assist the stewards on Wednesday but Racing Victoria has decided not to pursue the charges against the 26-year-old.
“This is a complex matter and the stewards were determined to be thorough and give due consideration to the submissions made, their legal advice and the ongoing investigations,” said Jamie Stier, Racing Victoria's executive general manager of integrity.
“Darren Weir is facing serious charges of possessing three pieces of electrical apparatus and conduct prejudicial to the interests or image of racing. He has advised the stewards he will not contest those charges which have drawn considerable negative publicity to the sport.
“To that end, stewards have requested the RAD board expedite the hearing of Mr Weir’s charges at which point they will be seeking a four-year disqualification.
“Until such time as the RAD board convenes to hear and determine Mr Weir’s charges, the stewards have imposed strict conditions on his licence that ensure he is not permitted to enter or race any horses as a trainer or owner.
“On the basis that Mr McLean advised the stewards that he will contest the charges against him, significant conditions have also been imposed on his operation until such time as the charges have been heard and determined by the RAD board.
“In reaching these positions on the show cause [preliminary] notices, the stewards note investigations remain ongoing and they reserve the right to act upon any new evidence that comes to hand during the course of those investigations."
The raid on Weir’s stable on Wednesday morning prompted many of his horses to be moved to different trainers, with Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut joining Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, while sprinter Nature Strip and Sandown Guineas winner Ringerdingding have joined Chris Waller's stable.
Weir is best known for his part in the history-making Melbourne Cup triumph of Prince Of Penzance, whose rider Michelle Payne became the first woman to land Australia's biggest race in 2015.
That victory is among 36 Weir has recorded at the highest level and his haul includes valuable strikes in the Victoria Derby, Manikato Stakes, Emirates Stakes and Australian Cup.
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